Middleton puts together career-high performance in win over North Dakota

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Photo by Isabel Bonebrake

Sophomore guard Danyel Middleton (25) dribbles the ball in Marquette women’s basketball’s 89-65 win over North Dakota Dec. 11.

Marquette women’s basketball stayed undefeated at home on the season, defeating the North Dakota Fighting Hawks 89-65 Saturday afternoon at the Al McGuire Center.

“Thought this afternoon was a great team win for us, just really proud of the way we shared the basketball, 33 assists on 40 made baskets is an awesome stat,” Marquette head coach Megan Duffy said. “Thought we had great balance and it was really good to see everyone have a chance to get minutes tonight.”

Prior to the game, the team honored first responders and had members of the Milwaukee Fire Department sing the National Anthem.

“Obviously our community was just devastated about everything that happened just a few weeks ago.” Duffy said. “You imagine the holiday season losing your loved ones in such a terrible way and the first responders that probably eased a little bit more of the devastation right there on the spot and were trying to keep this community strong,”

On the court, the Golden Eagles held a six-point lead at with 5:18 to go in the first quarter before going on a 9-0 run fueled by a 6-0 personal run by graduate student forward Lauren Van Kleunen.

Van Kleunen finished 6-for-6 from the field with 12 points in the first quarter to help send Marquette into the second quarter leading 29-12.

Second quarter brought a more balanced scoring effort for Marquette, as the Golden Eagles had eight assists on 10 made baskets in the frame. Sophomore guard Danyel Middleton finished with six points and two rebounds in the frame while Marquette outscored North Dakota 22-17 to take a 51-29 lead into halftime.

Marquette continued to push their lead even further as they took a 34-point lead by the time the third quarter had ended, with the score at 76-42. The Golden Eagle defense turned up the intensity as they held North Dakota to 4-for-18 from the field.

“I think putting together a 40-minute game is something we are really focusing on and so to come out in that second half strong again and continue that through that third and fourth quarter was really important for us no matter what the score board would say,” senior forward Chloe Marotta said.

Despite outscoring the Golden Eagles 23-13 in the final quarter, the Fighting Hawks comeback fell short as Marquette walked out with a 89-65 victory.

Middleton finished the night with a career-high nine points, four rebounds and an assist.

“I’m proud of Danny (Middleton), she’s doing really well,” Marotta said. “She just keeps fighting, she knows her role right now, getting to the basket strong, finishing strong and also grabbing some boards here and there is awesome to see.”

Marquette finished with four players in double-figures. Van Kleunen led the way with 20 points, graduate student guard Karissa McLaughlin and sophomore forward Liza Karlen finished with 13 a piece while junior guard Jordan King chipped in 11 points.

Marotta had a standout performance as well, finishing with six points, eight assists and led Marquette with 12 rebounds.

Marquette (7-2, 2-0 BIG EAST) will next play Dec. 19 at Seton Hall at 11 am CST.

“We’re gonna shut it down for a bit,” Duffy said. “The most important thing is getting our players locked into their school work and academics, get a little bit of rest mentally and physically and then we as coaches will be going on the road recruiting and we’ll circle back mid-week. We’ll be excited for Seton Hall.”

This article was written by Jackson Gross. He can be reached at jackson.gross@marquette.edu or on Twitter @JacksonGrossMU.